By Marc S. Sanders
What did I just watch? A mob movie, or a 2008 Presidential debate where the candidates are no shows, and their respective commercials are aired in their place? Andrew Dominik directs Killing Them Softly, with Brad Pitt who also produces.
Reader, I don’t get the appeal. Maybe it’s the outstanding cast which includes Pitt, as well as James Gandolfini, Ben Mehndelson, Richard Jenkins, Scoot McNairy and Ray Liotta. Sadly, these guys are given next to nothing do of any consequence.
After it is revealed that Liotta’s character, Marky, ripped off his own mob poker game a few years back, an idea is presented to two street addicts played McNairy & Mendehelson to do the same thing because, heck, they’d never be suspected and logic dictates that Liotta must have done it again. So, he’ll be the one to blame and get whacked. The game is robbed and now Brad Pitt’s hitman character is on the job. Simple enough story, almost like a Guy Ritchie picture.
Killing Them Softly is an adaptation of a 1974 novel by George V Higgins. I never read the book, but I’m curious if it contains any kind of relation to Andrew Dominik’s idea of editing recurring speeches and ads, compliments of Obama, McCain and Bush 45. Truly, what was the point of this recurring theme? A two-sentence piece of dialogue finally acknowledges this in the final minute of the film, but I’m still lost on the significance. Somehow Dominik made a dirty, cold, rain-soaked picture that has an omnipotent viewpoint from our most prominent politicians, and I don’t know what one thing has to do with another.
As well, Gandolfini arrives in the story and I never could gather what was his purpose. I think he is a hitman who is washed up, never getting his ass up to carry out the job and just monologues about nothing like the hooker he pays off; topics that Quentin Tarantino might’ve thrown in the editing trash bin.
Mendelsohn looks incredibly convincing as an addict living off the streets, yet his storyline has no end. He’s arrested. Then what happens? What does that mean for everyone else? Liotta has a long drawn out sequence of getting the shit kicked out of him by two mob foot soldiers. The scene goes on and on and on. His face cracks and bleeds, and bleeds some more. Brad Pitt? Well, he’s the hitman who just looks cool. Yeah, the black leather jacket he wears looks very cool on him. That’s about it.
There’s no development to Killing Them Softly. No surprise or twist. The guys you expect to get killed, get killed, and there’s no good dialogue.
This film is just an empty void of poorly, uninteresting violence.